Pie oh My! (and a kitchen giveaway!)

(NOTE: Be sure to read all the way to the end for the giveaway!) When I first married Todd and we lived in a tiny apartment in Three Rivers, Michigan, I loved to putt around in our minuscule kitchen.  The shiny new kitchen gadgets we’d received at our showers and for our wedding were a delight to me.

If you have read my book on hospitality, A Life That Says Welcome, you know I had about zero culinary skills when I began. To make matters worse, I married into a family full of people adept at interior decorating, sewing, baking, cooking and one who even ended up crafting a wildly successful bed and breakfast that was featured in Southern Living Magazine!

Well, I wanted to learn to be wildly successful in the kitchen too!

I started with pies.

Yes ma’am! I wanted to learn to whip me up a from-scratch crust, picked-the-fruit-up-at-a-southwestern-Michigan-roadside-stand, gen-u-ine perfect pie!

So I started with peach, since the fuzzy fruit was in peak season.

And folks, I took it waaaaay too seriously!

I stressed and obsessed.

I peeled and sliced, making sure all the slices were the same size.

I measured and sifted and rolled out the dough.

The result?

It was edible, but ugly.

Well, 24 years of practice has found me still making pies.  (And it is true–practice does make perfect. Got myself three blue-ribbon rosettes from the Clinton County Fair to prove it!!!! Yes that is total bragging! But it was also to encourage you. If this Betty Crocker drop-out can learn to do it, anyone can!)

Seriously, pies are so versatile! They can break the ice with a new neighbor, say “I am praying for you” to a troubled family, “Thank you so much!” to the man who fixed your kitchen sink or “We are thrilled for you!” to the couple welcoming their first baby.

It has been a pie week around here.  In our circle of friends pies were needed for two families who lost loved ones, one who welcomed baby number six, a dear grandpa of my son’s friend who ran him to baseball games at times we could not and we wanted to say thank you, a new friend who stayed home from work with a serious case of vertigo and couldn’t cook for her family, and yes, the friend who worked on the plumbing under my kitchen sink (uh…even thought that was many weeks ago and I’m just now getting him his promised peach pie. Sorry Doug!)

So, the total so far this week?

Seven and counting.

Now, while there are times I can make my blue-ribbon, flaky, from-scratch crust, let me just say, those roll-out refrigerated kinds work wonders too!!! And I did me some shortcut rolling this week to save time and my sanity.

Yes, I still love making pies. And I love the look on the faces of friends and strangers when I deliver one.

How about you? Will you set aside time this weekend to ask God who might be encouraged or cheered by a pie made from your sweet hands? Here are a few EASY recipes to get you started. (I’ll post the from scratch crust recipe here too for the brave.)

Easy Cheesy Chicken Pot Pie

One box roll-out refrigerated pie crust

2 1/2 C. chopped, cooked chicken

1 C. sharp cheddar cheese

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 bag Freshlike frozen vegetables for soup (don’t just use mixed vegetables, find one that has potatoes in it too)

Salt and pepper

Mix all but crust in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I use about 4 shakes of salt and 6-8 of pepper.) Roll out one crust in a pie pan, leaving the edges hanging over.

Place ingredients from bowl into crust. Roll out second crust on top. Use your fingers to crimp edges of both crusts tightly together to seal. (I like NOT to have them hang over the edge of pan, but instead push them in close to the pie so the edge of the pan still shows. This prevents the edges of the crust from burning.)

Seal well with Saran wrap. Add a note that says: “Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.” Note: if they’d like to freeze the pie for later, it will be all wrapped and ready. Just make sure they know to fully thaw it before baking or it won’t be done in an hour.

Fresh Peach Pie

(This recipe is taken from the 1963 Martha Dixon Cookbook. She was a local Lansing, Michigan TV personality whom my mother loved. Her cookbook was re-released in 1984 and my mom bought me a new copy for a bridal shower gift. It is now vintage with splashes and stains, the way a cookbook should be!!!)

5-6 cups sliced fresh peaches

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 C. sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon butter

One box roll-out refrigerator dough (or from-scratch recipe below)

Mix all but butter in a bowl. Turn into a crust-lined pie shell. Dot the top with butter. Cover with remaining edges. Crimp tightly, pushing toward pie and not leaving crust on the edge of the pan. (This prevents burning). Bake at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes until bubbly.

From-Scratch Crust:

2 cups unbleached flour

scant cup butter-flavored Crisco (about a teaspoon or two less than a cup)

1 teaspoon salt

6-8 tablespoons of water from melting ice (seriously–cold tap water will not work, so get out a bowl, fill it with  ice and let it begin melting a while before you begin).

Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender (or two forks if you don’t have one) Stir water in lightly to form a ball. DO NOT HANDLE TOO MUCH! It will make the dough tough, not flaky. Divide in half and roll out on a well floured counter to make a circle just a bit bigger in diameter than your pie pan. Repeat with top crust. Follow recipe for your favorite pie.

Okay–now for the giveaway. Leave a comment from now til midnight PST Sunday on pie. What kind of pie you like. What pies  you make. Why you have never, ever made a pie. A funny flop-of-a-pie story. What kind of pie your hubby likes. Anything! One random winner will be chosen to receive a copy of my book A Life That Says Welcome along with a Paula Deen Apple pie-scented candle and a gen-u-ine kitchen pastry blender.

Happy Baking!

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  • When I was growing up I was blessed to get to spend ALOT of time with my grandmother. She meant the world to me, and I still miss her to this day. Anyway, I would get to her house on Friday evening, and she ALWAYS had a homemade chocolate pie waiting for me! It was my favorite! We would sit and talk about the week, have a nice cold glass of milk and a BIG slice of that pie! Then we would stay up late playing UNO, and to be honest, there was a few times that the next morning there was NO pie left! rofl

  • Those recipes sound yummy!
    I remember in our early years of married life I was to bring pumpkin pies over to Aunt Azile’s (in laws). I was so proud, they looked beautiful.
    I was smiling as everyone took a piece, knowing for sure they were to be just a delicious, BUT… they weren’t enjoying their pie. Utterly confused I tasted a piece and discovered I omitted the sugar.
    The following year I made more pumpkin pies for my side of the family, and guess what I forgot to put in? Right! The sugar.
    Now pumpkin pie is my favorite to make, but even to this day I have to make sure I take a deliberate look at the sugar canister.

  • Our family favorite is Chocolate Pecan Pie. I am not an extraordinary chef, in fact i get a little anxious at 5pm when the dinner prep begins….burned, overcooked, unrecognnziable are my 3 specialites! :o) However I do love to bake and I make a yummy Pecan Pie! I use a recipe from my sister in law for the Choc Pecan Pie and it is a Thanksgiving & Christmas fave!

    I remember as a very young bride moving into a new town, far away from family and friends when a sweet family showed up on our side porch, friends from my hubby’s work came by to deliver a homemade pie and a box of veggies from their kids’ garden…i felt so very welcomed and loved. We were fast friends with that dear family!

  • My favorite pie to make is a buttermilk pie. Several years ago, when I was a young mother, I decided I wanted to make an “old lady pie” so I perused a cookbook and found the buttermilk pie! Perfect. And it is my son’s all time favorite!
    BUT I have never even attempted to make a crust myself.

  • I am 35 years old and I have made one pie during my lifetime. This summer, I finally checked “make a pie” off my annoying list of annoying things I did not really want to do, but felt like I needed to do anyway. We have some land where wild black raspberries grow like crazy. So, I had the main ingredient. I just couldn’t muster the motivation to make the crust from scratch. I will admit that I used a pre-made crust. But, I still made a pie. People actually ate it. It was not a pretty pie. But, it was edible. That’s what counts, right?! Well, that is what I am telling myself. I checked “make a pie” off my list!

  • I recently moved and met a new neighbor who recently lost her husband. I am so excited because she is going to teach me how to make a pie crust from scratch. She learned in Home Ec. some 60 years ago. We plan to make a chocolate pie.

  • I can’t say I’ve made a pie from scratch by myself, but I HAVE helped my grandma-who came from the generation w/o bread machines and so made just about everything from scratch. We made an apple pie and it turned out perfectly. I guess I’m hesitant for a couple reasons……1. Her pie was so perfect…to the criss-crossed homemade crust to the ooey gooey apple center. 2. She’s in Heaven now and unfortunately no one else in my family has made one before.

    I know I should just “get over it” and try. :)

    As for my fav pies……not too picky any will do!!

    ~Amy

  • I LOVE pie!! Well, actually any kind of baked good or pastry is good with me. :)
    It is so hard to choose a favorite pie, I think my favorite varies with the seasons. Pecan in the fall, Peach in the summer, my favorite time for a blueberry pie is in the winter with the blueberries we picked in the summer and froze. Not necessarily a pie, but we all love quiche with a great flaky crust!
    I love to make my own crust but there are times that the Pillsbury crust is necessary because of time restraints and it is always a good crust too.

  • How funny, I just got off the phone with my friend who wants me to teach her daughter how to make pies. Mine are good but not pretty, you have to be patient to make the crust look lovely and I am not a patient baker…
    My hubby loves pies and he and my three sons have conspired, I think, to always say, “You make the best pies and pie crust.” “Your crust is perfect.” That keeps me from getting to take those shortcuts I would like to but it is so sweet of them to continually encourage me. One of my best is Pecan Pie, we make it for my husband’s birthday and Father’s Day and my oldest has taken after his dad and asks for it for his birthday along with his favorite dinner, chicken pot pie…yikes so much crust to make and his birthday is Halloween! I have found I can make the crust and freeze it and it still turns out ok, hey, the store sells it frozen and I need some shortcut, especially on Halloween. This will be my first year where my son won’t be home on his birthday since he will be a freshmen in college….I have a funny feeling I will be making chicken pot pie and pecan pie that night anyway and thinking of him! (Or drive the 3 hour round trip ride and drop it off at his dorm!)
    Thanks for the reminder and chance to reminisce. And to all you ladies out there afraid to try your own crust, find an older lady at your church who is a good pie maker, there must be one, and ask her to show you. She will be delighted and you will learn a new skill to pass on to the next generation!

  • So for a few years in a row the PTA at my sons’ school sent the teachers home at Thanksgiving Break with homemade pies. I jumped right in my first year here and offered to make two apple pies. Well, pie is one of those things that you can not really taste test. You get what you get but you don’t really know what that is until you serve it up! Admittedly my pies looked great on the outside but I heard from my son’s teacher that it wasn’t so great on the inside. I love that we can be honest with each other and that she didn’t rave on about something that was not really able to be raved about. I know that in the furture I should stick to what I know or practice more on my family!

  • I love love custard pie.
    I am actually afraid to make pies.
    I have tried but the crust always turns out bad.
    I know I have to get over this fear and perhaps one of these days I will.

  • Our family’s favorite are apricot fried pies. My husband’s Oklahoma grandmother made these, and I am carrying on the tradition. My husband says he likes two pies – hot and cold! Really, for many birthdays my kids chose pies over cakes.

  • Cherry definitely is my husbands favorite! I’ve always made from scratch, but am encouraged by your post to make more pies (to give away) and use refridgerator pie crust :o) Thanks for your recipes and time you give to share!

  • I love to make triple berry pie. Use the refrigerator crust. Maybe I’ll get brave one day and try the made from scratch crust! Thanks fo the chance to win.

  • According to the season, I have several favorites. In the fall, it is a caramel apple pie, at Christmas, it is a chocolate fudge pie. Spring time brings around the old fashioned lemon icebox pie, and during the summer, we love blueberry pie fresh from our bushes.

  • I would like to add the story of my first ever pie. Well, when I was in fifth grade, we were supposed to choose a project to go with reading a book. The main character in my book made a lemon meringue pie, so that is what I chose to do. I made the whole thing from scratch from the Betty Crocker cookbook, with no help from my mom who could not bake. It actually wasn’t too awful until I got to the meringue. I don’t know what I did wrong, but it would not beat up high. It ended up very flat! I brought the pie to school and the teacher and I each ate a piece at lunchtime, and she gave me an A. For taste – not appearance. It really did taste pretty good, especially for a fifth grader who had no help from a parent. I’ve never made a lemon meringue pie since, but I do collect recipes for them. As if someday I will overcome the trauma and try again! Too funny.

  • Ok, I have to confess, cooking is not my gift. I wish it were my gift. Years ago when first married I tried making a pumpkin pie from scratch. I think I was tramatized when finished after so much effort and stress, and I was standing near the trash can and the pie just fell right into that can just way too easily. My husband thought it was very funny. I didn’t at the time because I had a migraine! I haven’t made a pie since. I do cakes, not pies. I’m too intimidated in the kitchen. Isn’t that pathetic. Are we talking this gal needs a cooking mentor. I think after all these years (and I’m not saying how many), I’m not gonna ask for one. I just have to keep some secrets to myself-ha. All good talents do take practice and cooking is one practice I haven’t taken up. Is it too late for me?? Don’t answer! It’s too overwhelming…All in kidding.I’m so glad there’s take out.

  • My grandmother was a pie-baker-extraordinaire. You could not visit her home without a fresh pie available to eat. She made all kinds, and all from scratch. Sadly, her recipes were in her head and went to the grave with her 18 years ago. None of her children or grandchildren seemed to have the mental wherewithall to try to watch her and put the recipes on paper when we could have. :(
    My husband and his family love pie – and prefer it to all other desserts. Since they are all pie bakers, I am never asked to bring a pie to a family gathering – they just do it themselves. I make them at home occasionally, but lack the time to do it often; and we don’t need the calories! lol
    As for my husband’s favorite pie, they are all his favorites, except for anything with coconut. He hates the texture of coconut, so that is the one thing we never make.
    My favorite pie to make is peanut butter because it is easy and everyone in my family likes it. Everyone loves my apple pie, but I only make it a few times a year because it is labor intense. I made blueberry last week with freshly picked Michigan blueberries from the local orchard – YUM!

  • My husband’s favorite is pecan and I enjoy making them for him. I have never tried from scratch crust because Pillsbury pie crust is so nice and easy :) I like to make pecan and coconut pies for church lunches.

  • all pies are my faves. hard to decide. Apple, cherry, peach, mixed berry, and pecan. you name it I love pie

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  • I have never made an actual from scratch pie. I’ve always been a little scared to try! My favorite pie is one my grandma used to make…chocolate pecan. I have gotten a little braver in the kitchen this year – so maybe I’ll try a pie.

  • Hard to pick just one favorite! Blueberry is wonderful, but Cherry is the all time favorite! Pumpkin is delightful in the Fall……I too, like to use Pillsbury Pie Crust. It’s always good and it’s stress-free! My kind of baking!